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Jenny Simpson’s opportunity in Stockholm; TV, stream schedule

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Jenny Simpson has 2016 Olympic bronze and 2017 World silver, but it’s been three years since she won a Diamond League race. Opportunity knocks in a familiar place on Sunday, live on NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold.

Simpson headlines a 1500m field in Stockholm that includes Olympic teammate Brenda Martinez and Brit Laura Muir.

NBC Sports Gold coverage starts at 9 a.m. ET and continues with NBCSN’s broadcast coverage at 10, capped by the women’s 1500m at 11:51 a.m.

Simpson knows Stockholm well. She won her first post-collegiate international race there in 2009, when she was a steeplechaser known as Jenny Barringer (though her Stockholm win was in the 5000m).

Then in 2014, Simpson won a Diamond League 1500m in Stockholm, beating a field including the world’s top runners — Genzebe DibabaAbeba Aregawi and Sifan Hassan, en route to the season title.

After ceding to U.S. Olympic 5000m runner Shelby Houlihan in the final 100 meters at the Prefontaine Classic two weeks ago, Simpson can reassert her 1500m prowess on Sunday.

Here are the Stockholm entry lists. Here’s the schedule of events (all times Eastern):

7:25 a.m. ET — Women’s Pole Vault
9 — Women’s High Jump
9:20 — Men’s Long Jump
9:38 — Men’s Pole Vault
9:49 — Men’s 100m
10:03 — Men’s 400m Hurdles
10:11 — Women’s 800m
10:20 — Women’s 100m
10:30 — Men’s 800m
10:35 — Men’s Discus
10:40 — Men’s 5000m
10:45 — Women’s Long Jump
11 — Women’s 400m
11:15 — Women’s 100m Hurdles
11:30 — Men’s 1000m
11:40 — Men’s 200m
11:51 — Women’s 1500m

Here are five events to watch:

Men’s Long Jump — 9:20 a.m. ET
Olympic champion versus world champion. South African Luvo Manyonga has won all five head-to-heads with American Jeff Henderson since Henderson edged him by one centimeter for gold in Rio, according to Tilastopaja.org. In fact, Manyonga has lost just once since Rio, indoors or outdoors, and has the two farthest jumps in the world this year. Henderson ranks No. 3 in the world this year, recording his best leap since 2015.

Men’s 400m Hurdles — 10:03 a.m. ET
The revelation in track and field so far this outdoor season has been Qatar’s Abderrahman Samba. The 22-year-old debuted in the 400m hurdles last year and is now ranked 14th all-time in the event, having clocked the fastest time in the world since 2010 (and backing it up with the next-two fastest times for the year). Here, Samba and world champion Karsten Warholm of Norway go head-to-head for the third time in 11 days. Samba relegated Warholm to second place in the previous races.

Men’s Discus — 10:35 a.m. ET
Deepest field of the meet? The top four finishers from 2017 Worlds and the top five men in the world this year. Lithuanian Andrius Gudzius, the world champion, has four of the top five throws of 2018. But Jamaican Fedrick Dacres beat him at the Rome Diamond League meet. Such is the state of Jamaican athletics that the nation has two of the top six discus throwers in the world this year versus one of the top 20 sprinters in the 100m and 200m combined.

Men’s 200m — 11:40 a.m. ET
The 200m was once dominated by the U.S. and Jamaica, which combined to win every Olympic medal in the event between 2004 and 2012 and 19 of the 24 world championships medals between 2001 and 2015. Times have changed. Eight men from eight different countries across four continents have broken 20 seconds so far this year. Three of them meet here, headlined by surprise world champion Ramil Guliyev of Turkey and Steven Gardiner of the Bahamas, both chasing the world lead of 19.69 seconds shared by South African Clarence Munyai and American Noah Lyles.

Women’s 1500m — 11:51 a.m. ET
Simpson not only eyes her first Diamond League win in three years, but also her first track victory over a field including Muir since 2015. The 25-year-old Brit has emerged the last few seasons as a force in one of the sport’s deepest events. Muir was fourth at the 2017 Worlds, second at 2018 World Indoors (Simpson wasn’t in the field) and passed Simpson in the final strides for second behind Houlihan at the Pre Classic two weeks ago. Muir has been faster than Simpson in five of their last six meetings on the track.

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VIDEO: Wrong barrier height causes chaos in Oslo steeplechase

Yevgenia Medvedeva leads after short program at Autumn Classic

Yevgenia Medvedeva
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Olympic silver medalist and two-time world champion Yevgenia Medvedeva leads after Thursday’s short program at her season opener, the Autumn Classic International. In her first competition since moving to Toronto to train under Brian Orser, Medvedeva scored 70.89 points.

Olympic team event bronze medalist Bradie Tennell sits in second place heading into Friday’s free skate with 69.26 points. Tennell, the reigning U.S. national champion, was joined by countrywoman Starr Andrews in Ontario. Andrews scored 56.70 points and finished fifth in the short program.

France’s Mae Berenice Meite rounds out the top three with 58.23 points.

Earlier on Thursday, Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres from France scored 73.81 points to build their lead over the pairs’ field. Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro from Canada were second with 64.73 points, followed by the two American teams: Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier (61.91) and Jessica Calalang and Brian Johnson (50.25), who competed internationally as new partners for the first time.

Competition at the Autumn Classic continues this weekend. Friday features the rhythm dance, men’s short program, and the pairs’ and ladies’ free skates. Saturday concludes competition with the free dance and men’s free skate. The event will stream live on Skate Canada’s Dailymotion page.

Elsewhere in the world of figure skating this weekend, Rika Kihira took the ladies’ short program at the Nepela Trophy in Bratislava. The reigning world junior champion attempted her triple Axel to open her “Clair de Lune” program but fell and was awarded -5 Grades of Execution across the board. She tallied 70.79 points and leads Kazakhstan’s Elizabet Tursynbaeva by just 0.8 points. Russian Stanislava Konstantinova is third with 65.03 points.

Russian men lead the field after the short program in Bratislava. Mikhail Kolyada scored 96.82 points while Sergei Voronov earned 81.77 points. Japan’s Keiji Tanaka currently sits third with 77.53 points.

Ashley Cain and Timothy LeDuc have a three-point lead on the pairs’ field after the short program with 65.68 points. Deanna Stellato and Nathan Bartholomay, the other Americans in the field, are third with 59.60 points in their first competition of the season.

Competition continues at the Nepela Trophy this weekend with the rhythm dance and pairs’ free skate on Friday and the ladies’ free skate, free dance, and men’s free skate on Saturday.

MORE: Olympic gold medalist Alina Zagitova delays season opener by one week

Despite protests, Russias anti-doping agency reinstated

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The World Anti-Doping Agency declared Russia’s scandal-ridden drug-fighting operation back in business Thursday, a decision designed to bring a close to one of sports’ most notorious doping scandals but one bitterly disputed by hundreds of athletes and described as “treachery” by the lawyer for the man who exposed the corruption.

On a 9-2 vote, the executive committee took the advice of the agency’s compliance review panel and declared RUSADA as having satisfied conditions of reinstatement that were gradually softened over the summer.

In most tangible ways, the decision doesn’t change much: RUSADA has been up and running for a while, bringing one of the world’s largest testing programs back on line with the help of officials from Britain and elsewhere. And Russia’s Olympic committee was brought back into the fold after the Pyeongchang Olympics, where athletes who could prove they were clean were able to compete as “Olympic Athletes from Russia.”

But RUSADA’s reinstatement now clears the country to again bid for major international events — although soccer’s World Cup was held there this summer despite that restriction.

It also clears a major hurdle for Russia’s track team to be declared compliant by that sport’s international governing body, one of the few to take a strong, consistent stand against doping.

Perhaps most importantly, hundreds of athletes and dozens of world anti-doping leaders see it as a stinging rebuke to the ideal of fair play.

“WADA’s decision to reinstate Russia represents the greatest treachery against clean athletes in Olympic history,” said Jim Walden, the attorney for Grigory Rodchenkov, the former Moscow lab director who exposed much of the Russian scheme.

WADA had been telegraphing the move since Sept. 14, when it released the recommendation of its compliance review committee. Olympic champion Beckie Scott resigned from that committee afterward.

“I’m profoundly disappointed,” Scott said to Canadian broadcaster CBC after the decision. “I feel this was an opportunity for WADA, and they have dealt a devastating blow to clean sport. I’m quite dismayed.”

Even in Russia, where the news was welcomed, it came with a sense that there’s still work to be done.

“These questions will always follow us,” said RUSADA CEO Yuri Ganus, whose appointment to the job was part of the housecleaning at the agency that WADA demanded. “These aren’t the kind of skeletons which can lie unnoticed in the closet. These are the skeletons which will be banging on the closet door all the time.”

The two biggest roadblocks to RUSADA’s reinstatement involved the country accepting findings from a report by investigator Richard McLaren that concluded the government had engineered the doping scandal to win medals at the Sochi Olympics. It also involved Russia agreeing to hand over a trove of data and samples that could be used to corroborate potential doping violations that stemmed from the cheating.

Over a summer’s worth of correspondence between WADA leaders and Russia’s sports minister about how to bridge the gap, a pattern emerged of WADA backing down from its initial requirements and, at one point, essentially asking Russia what it would be willing to say in a letter designed to satisfy the WADA review committee.

“We think that a small addition to the letter, if acceptable to you, could ensure that the letter is well received … and that a positive recommendation is provided,” WADA CEO Olivier Niggli wrote to sports minister Pavel Kolobkov in May in a letter obtained by BBC Sport .

In the end, Russia agreed to accept findings of an IOC-commissioned report that put less onus on the Russian government for the scheme, a move that Rodchenkov said earlier this week was done “for the pure purpose of protecting their top-level apparatchiks who destroyed the Olympic Games in Sochi.”

Russia also agreed to hand over the samples and data by Dec. 31. If it does not, RUSADA will again be declared noncompliant.

“Without this pragmatic approach, we would continue with the impasse and the laboratory data could have remained out of our reach indefinitely,” WADA president Craig Reedie said after Thursday’s executive committee meeting in Seychelles.

Critics said reinstating RUSADA before obtaining the data only amounts to accepting another promise from a country that hasn’t kept many over the five-year course of the scandal.

Travis Tygart, the CEO for the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, called the decision “bewildering and inexplicable,” and urged a full revamping of WADA; Reedie also serves as a member of the IOC, which is one of the many conflicts of interest that bother critics of the agency.

“Let’s be clear: Absolutely nothing will be off the table for how we, the anti-doping community, begin the work of reforming WADA,” Tygart said.

Reedie said “WADA understands that this decision will not please everybody.”

“Clean athletes were denied places at the Olympic and Paralympic Games, as well as other major events, and others were cheated of medals,” he said. “It is entirely understandable that they should be wary about the supposed rehabilitation of offenders.”